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This spring, we welcomed twelve hens to the Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards family, and we wanted to make sure the chickens would be comfortable and happy in their new home. With the help of Shenandoah Sheds, we built a custom chicken coop to house our 12 Pippin hens. Here are our five expert tips to get you started when you’re building your very own chicken coop.

1. Shop local

When building your own chicken coop, use local building companies that understand the particular nature of your area’s terrain. Our chicken coop was custom built by Shenandoah Sheds in White Post, Virginia – they pride themselves on listening to the customer’s needs and providing a well-built product at a fair price.

2. It’s all about the design

Make your chicken coop the centerpiece of your yard with an elegant and personal design. Our is modeled after the Pippin Hill Granary, painted the same shade of blue-grey with a slanted roof and spire. Pay attention to the little details that will set your coop apart – adorn your coop with blooming flower boxes for a beautiful and natural touch.

3. Let them roam

It’s important that your coop is large enough for the chickens to be able to roam. The size of your coop should depend on the amount of chickens you are raising – at Pippin Hill Farm, we have 12 hens and our coop is 8’x16′. The coop itself is 8’x8′ and the run adds another 8 feet, making a large fenced-in living space. Attached to the coop is a pen where the chickens can roam free during the week. Raising your chickens Free Range is said to have numerous benefits – it allows the chickens to maintain a natural diet and lifestyle and can even produce healthier eggs.

4. Protect your chickens

From foxes to possums, chickens face a variety of predators, and you need to make sure your chickens are well-protected. Using electric netting to fence your coop in will keep most predators away. In order to ensure that no predators can sneak under the fence, we buried hardware mesh netting 6” deep around the run.

5. Make it sustainable

The chicken coop is its own personal ecosystem, and almost all of its byproducts can be reused or repurposed. Our food philosophy focuses on vineyard-to-table cuisine. We use the eggs harvested from our hens in the Pippin Hill kitchen, adding a farm-fresh touch to classic recipes like our kale caesar salad with a poached egg. We also collect the hens’ droppings for compost, which is then used to amend and fertilize our kitchen garden soil.

These tips will help you build a beautiful and high-functioning chicken coop right in your backyard. Be sure to stop by Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards to visit our #PippinChicks!

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